Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Some lovely friends have asked me how my training is going. These people are kind, and they mean well. They may actually care about my training and or athletic prowess, although for the most part I think they are just being thoughtful.

My pat response has been "Ahh, its going." What this really means is I am running, biking and swimming when I can, but it's not the highlight of my life.

Henri  Nouwen is actually the current highlight of my life but alas I will save my love for Henri for another day. (Henri is pictured here for fun).

Swimming is good. But for the Division I Varsity swimmer who beat my tail back and forth at the RAC pool last week, I have felt strong and confident in the water. I have also enjoyed swimming more than I have in years which to me is a great blessing.

Biking has been fine. I have yet to face plant and I have decided the biking shorts with room for two may not be a great fit, so I am in the market for shorts that only have room for one person. This is a good start on the bike I think.

The real hard part has been running. I have been jogging, and jogging and jogging more, yet I am still terrible at it. It's hot out, my legs feel heavy and I generally count down the minutes until I am at home sipping something cold. That was until last night. Last night I went for a late jog - goal, 32 minutes or around 3.2 miles.

According to http://www.mapmyrun.com/ - it wasn't actually a 3.2 miler - more like a 3 miler, but it didn't hurt and I only looked at my watch once. This friends, is a mini miracle. For the first time in years, I ran and didn't hate every step.

I came home excited, almost thrilled. I told Whit the run was so not bad, so surprisingly not terrible, it was almost fun.

So ask me today how the training is going and I won't say "Ahh, its going." I will say - "It's going well, thank you" and I will maintain this sentiment until the next time I go for a jog and hate every minute.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


In the book of Exodus, God provides His people with food when they are in need. Although Exodus mentions the manna is cake like and tastes like honey, my people have always described their favorite food as manna from heaven.

It's the ultimate compliment from an evangelical that likes to eat.

Rumor has it my great grandmother called blue crabs, "manna from heaven."

My mother has also used the term but I don't recall what delicious dish deserved the compliment.

For me, manna = pizza.

I have been vegan for most of the last 5 months. Vegan = no animal products like CHEESE, EGGS, etc. Last night, I needed a pizza fix and no vegan oath was going to get in my way... so off to Grace's Pizza in Grandin Village.

Spinach, mushrooms, green peppers, extra garlic and tomatoes - YUM. I ate alot. It was delicious.
It was a reward for my two days of running and motivation to get my toes in the pool today. Yes, I require special treats to train for this triathlon.

Although I am not a theologian, I think that God was telling his people in Exodus that they should not worry, He was in control and would provide.

In my life, He used a wonderful baked bread slathered with red sauce and fresh veggies - baked with cheese to communicate the same thing.

"Lauren - go run, go bike and swim. You are not alone. It will be fun. I will provide - and every once in awhile, my provisions will be so tasty you will be tempted to blog about them." Ok, so not a direct quote... but I feel blessed either way.

Monday, June 14, 2010


So I have been trying to run bike and swim blah blah blah like the books say... a few runs, swims and 1 hour with my bum on a plastic seat a week.

And so far I am seeing great results.

Like new bruises are beginning to form on my legs... and it hurts to walk up stairs... and chain grease is permanently affixed to my knees...and I have to do more laundry.... and there is one new
development which made me turn to the interwebs in search of answers.

My hamstrings hurt. Both of them with equal intensity. They have hurt for a few days now and so I am wondering, why do they hurt?

Was it the 10 miles I ran on Saturday? Or the ride up Mill Mountain and to Floyd and back today that did it? But for the fact I did neither of those things this weekend, I think the cause really might be lack of encouragement. You know - after years of mild use I now expect great things from these muscles and yet I have not been as kind or encouraging as I should be.

The websites I found however, say nothing about encouraging words and hamstring pain.

This one website I came across says
Here are a number of factors that can lead to a hamstring tear.
  • Previous hamstring injury
  • Lack of hamstring flexibility
  • Lack of hamstring strength
  • Imbalance between hamstrings and quadriceps
  • Imbalance between the left and right hamstrings
  • Anterior pelvic tilt
  • Hypomobile lumbar spine
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Dehydration
  • Electrolyte depletion
Wow. I don't even know what most of those words mean and I am pretty sure my pelvis is not titled, so there must be a more basic reason. I really think I need to give my hammies some r&r, say nice things and they will be back in business.

So I googled "encouraging your hamstrings." No seriously.

And all I found were websites trying to sell me stuff like gel and freezy packs and ultrasound stuff. So I kept looking. One smart looking website says my hammie pain could be related to overuse or "pushing beyond your limits."

OMG. How did the website know that?

Amazing how the Internet has developed into an all knowing enterprise. I did push myself beyond my limits this week and now need to be a wee bit more careful.

Today is a rest day, but tomorrow I will be back on the saddle, or speedo, or something. Until then I am saying nice things to my leg muscles, encouraging and positive words and words of thanks. "Doing great guys - keep it up. You can do it."

I'll keep you posted but so far I think the nice words are going far.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I'll admit it. I am a wuss. I don't like pain, discomfort or any activity that tends to cause pain and/or discomfort. I like easy runs, swimming and really want to replace my bike saddle with a twin size pillow top mattress. That might alleviate the occasionally "seat" pain that happens post bike ride.

So yesterday, in keeping with my I feel good swimming routine, I went to the pool. I actually had the entire outdoor pool all to myself for almost 20 minutes - swam 3 500's in a row when all of a sudden

DEAR MARY, MOTHER OF GOD - my left calf muscle is on fire. Yes, I know that is impossible as it is submerged in 7 feet of chlorinated water, but it burns, and hurts, and won't flex and WOWZERS that hurts.

I can't kick.
I can't bend my foot or leg.
My calf is throbbing, burning firelike pain.

I want to scream under water. I want to rip my leg off to make the burning stop.

I hop to the side of the pool, holding my leg like a gimpy puppy.  I massage it. Pain continues. I pray to myself "DEAR JESUS HELP ME" (Much like the scene in Taledega Nights where Ricky Bobby runs around - enjoy it again) 

I got out of the pool, walked around - limping, embarrassed I have not finished my swim... and the pain stops. My foot, calf and ankle relax, and I am fine.

WOW. That was odd I thought. What in tarnation caused that little episode?

According to the interwebs, "Sudden pains that show up during physical activity, such as walking, are usually a sign of what doctors call arterial insufficiency...is usually seen in the form of intermittent claudication. In this condition the painful cramping quickly comes and goes. It's always preceded by exercise, when the muscle demands more blood, and it's completely relieved within five to ten minutes of stopping the exertion that produced the pain."

Well - yes, so what does that mean Dr. Internet?

"Think of claudication as a heart attack of the lower leg," explains Joseph M. Giordano, M.D., professor and chief of surgery at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C. "If blood flow is obstructed, the increased needs of the muscle aren't being met, and the attack occurs. With immediate rest, the muscle's blood demands return to normal, and the pain goes away."

A HEART ATTACK OF THE LOWER LEG. MAN  - I should have taken today off.

Dr. Internet continues: "Intermittent claudication is a relatively benign and manageable condition... At its worst, the condition can produce painful, slow-healing ulcers or even gangrene."


So what can I do about it to prevent this burning fire like pain from returning?
Go Home? Put my feet up? Eat potato ships for salt and carbs?

"Hoof it till it hurts. Though walking brings on intermittent claudication, a walking program is the first step in treating it. "You should walk until you reach your level of pain tolerance," says Dr. Giordano. "When you reach the point where you can't stand the pain anymore, stop. Push yourself a little more each day, keep increasing the distance, and gradually the condition will become less prevalent."

Great. Just what I wanted to hear.  The only way to get over this painful thing, is with more exercise. What a pain.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Many many years ago when the US Olympic Swim Team was training for the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics, I went to a few of their practices like a little dorky groupie. I cheered, whistled hooted and hollered. I may have even followed a few of the male team members out to the bus and asked for autographs. One particular male swimmer remains in my memory  - Hans Dersch - ahh, Hans. Hope you are well.

While this was not the proudest moment in my life, I have moved on. Now, rather than chasing the athletes like an awkward puppy, I can kick their butts in the pool.

OK, slight exaggeration I will admit. I doubt I can kick the anything off of any past Olympian, but I feel like I can which is the real victory here.

I have reached a point in the water again, after many years, where I feel at home. As my arms work in union and my legs kick to the steady beat in my head, I feel strong, proud, almost good. Well, I feel good and am no longer embarrassed to say I used to swim. I can say, with some pride, that I still do swim.

So Ms. Summer Sanders, 1992 Gold medalist and Mr. Michael Phelps, fastest swimmer of all times - next time you are in Roanoke, call me. You can borrow my new kick board and I will even let you use my new YMCA cap if you forgot one.

We can swim a few thousand, have a cocktail of ice water on the rocks, and I promise I won't ask for your autographs. We can just enjoy the cold clean water and the way it makes you feel as you push off the wall. We can kick, paddle and breathe in mutual silence, enjoying our favorite sport together.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


I have been a little lazy this week. Not really sure why, but perhaps it has something to do with the fact I am generally lazy when it comes to exercise. That is why I decided to do the whole triathlon thing in the first place - lacking structure needing motivation.

Anyway, last night, in my laziness, I took the pups (seen here looking adorable like always last spring) for a long walk around the hood. We returned home hot, tired, slightly winded and gross. The solution? Take a dip.

We are blessed to have a concrete pond in the back yard that has lovely chlorinated water. On a warm evening, it is just the ticket to cool off. Only problem is that the pooches do not share the pool well.

They will run and jump on your head, chase things, like you, and if they get close enough, accidentally claw whatever bits of skin they can reach. They don't mean to hurt you, but when they have to keep doggy paddling to stay afloat, the nails inevitably make contact and cause humans, like me, pain.

So last night, I invented a great new workout - aqua jogging with Atticus.

This is how it works:

1. Stand in shallow end with large orange floating ball.
2. Throw ball toward middle of pool.
3. Watch two large dogs hurl bodies into air, toward ball, knocking heads and faces as they hit the water.
4. As dogs hit water - you swim toward deep end, away from dogs.
5. As Gracie steals orange ball, Atticus loses interest and starts toward you - he thinks you are his new orange ball.
6. You swim, kick and do whatever is necessary to avoid his reach while staying in the water reaching shallow end unscathed.
7. Gracie exits pool with ball - ready to play again.
8. Throw ball again and repeat.

The good news is, this little game gave us all a work out.

The bad news is, I think my neighbors may have called Animal Control when they heard me screaming and frantically swimming away from the large black dog, and or they called the psych. unit at our neighboring hospital to complain of the ill woman next door.

 If I want to do well in September during the swim leg of the triathlon, I may need Atticus to come along. He tends to make me swim faster. We may play again tonight - so bring your ball, and come on by.